Study Suggests Boosting Probiotics Eases Depression, Anxiety


Supplements used to boost probiotics could be helpful in altering the way people process emotional information like anxiety and depression by easing the experiences, according to new research regarding the helpful micro-organisms.

University of Oxford researchers, who also found that gut bacteria can affect the immune system and then the brain, recruited 45 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 45. Each person took a probiotic supplement to “good” bacteria or a placebo for three weeks every day. Then, the participants took several computer tests to assess how they processed emotional information, like negative and positive words.

Researchers discovered that those who took the supplement paid less attention to negative information and regarded the positive information instead. Those who took the placebo reacted less dramatically. A similar effect was in seen in those who tools drugs for anxiety or depression, and loss in the supplement group were reported to have less anxiety about negative stimuli.

Researchers noted that they’re unsure how the gut bacteria effects changes in the brain. However, they have suggested that the vagus nerve, which conveys sensory information from the gut to the brain, has some role in the process.

"It's becoming a very interesting question in the field," Dr. Roger McIntyre, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, said. "The animal data looks really interesting, and looks very suggestive, [but] we're still waiting for that convincing human study.”

Scientists are now interested in the possibility of using probiotics to treat anxiety or depression. They have also proposed that probiotics could improve patients’ responses to psychiatric drugs.

The study was published in Psychopharmacology, following a French study conducted in 2011 that saw reduced levels of psychological distress in those who took probiotics for 30 days.

Source: Yahoo! News / Photo Credit: Flickr


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